Corissa Widger, Empire Interpreting Service (EIS) Director of Spoken Languages, and Alison Grimes, Assistant to the Director of Spoken Languages, recently addressed more than 50 students at Syracuse’s Westside Learning Center about their rights as Limited English Proficient (LEP) individuals, said Theresa Slater, EIS President.
Throughout the day students were informed about their rights under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits national origin discrimination, Slater said. “Under this law, ‘no person shall on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.’
“One of the most common examples of national origin discrimination is when a federally funded agency does not make their programs and services available to LEP individuals based on their inability to speak, read, write or understand English. The government requires federally funded agencies to provide LEP individuals with meaningful access to their federally subsidized services. The Supreme Court determines whether meaningful access has been provided through the use of competent and trained Interpreters, accurately translated “vital documents”, or documentation showing the search for such services.
“Risk of non-compliance is significantly high as individuals may submit complaints alleging a Title VI violation to the Department of Justice (DOJ). If a compliance review by the DOJ finds the allegations to be true then the federally funded agency may risk termination of federal assistance, be required to develop a LEP plan if one is not yet in place or private plaintiffs may decide to sue for monetary damages and injunctive relief. “
In addition to reviewing Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, students were also informed of the importance of using professional Interpreters versus children, friends or family members, as professional Interpreters abide by a professional code of ethics and standards or practices, Widger said. In addition, students were given the opportunity to practice saying and/or writing in English “May I please have a _________ Interpreter?” filling in the blank with the language that they speak. “A few brave volunteers even utilized an interpreter to have a brief conversation with one of the presenters. This role-playing exercise allowed some of the students who had never used an Interpreter before to see how it works. Through the role-play, students became aware that Interpreters are a neutral party, who interpret everything that is said by both parties, while also mimicking the tone of the conversation and explaining any cultural differences that may encounter during the conversation.
“Education is knowledge and knowledge is empowering”. On Tuesday, Empire Interpreting Service aimed to do just that, as many of the students present have only lived in the United States for less than a year, unaware of their rights to be free from national origin discrimination.
“EIS provides a variety of free training sessions to both their customers and consumers. Among the topics are: Title VI & ADA Compliance; Knowing Your Rights; and How To Work With Interpreters In Various Settings. If you are interested in learning more about our trainings please contact our office at 315-472-1383 or [email protected]”
EIS is a member of the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, the International Medical Interpreters Association, and the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators. For further information, EIS can be contacted in Manhattan at (914) 819-5526, in Syracuse at (315) 472-1383, their financial office in Homer at (607) 753-8338, or on line at www.empireinterpreting.com.